South Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-0025. Serving dinner
daily from 5:30. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $9 (pasta in tomato sauce) to $32 (16-oz.
new kid on the block is now almost 10, and 10-year-olds rarely
remain cute. Since opening Chianti il Ristoranti a decade
ago, owner David Zecchini has added two more Saratoga Springs
restaurants, one of which, Il Forno Toscano, perseveres.
Chianti, meanwhile, peers from its nicely landscaped corner
at the south end of the village, murmuring a reminder that
it’s still offering a style of Italian cookery that was trendsetting
for the area when it first appeared and remains no less appealing.
There’s the food, of course, upon which we’ll dwell. But beyond
that, and enhancing the dining experience, is the rambunctious
charm of the place. Long gone are any traces of its former
incarnation, which was as far from fine dining as it’s possible
to get. What begins as a series of outdoor sculptures continues
inside the restaurant as an almost kinetic decor, with hanging
sculptures, shelves of glassware, exotic lighting, and a formal
but comfortable array of tables and chairs.
Zecchini designed and helped build it this way, and it’s just
intrusive enough to remind you that you’re dining in no ordinary
place. So settle in, order a glass of prosecco, and
have a look at the menu. Perhaps you’ll start with some raw
They bill it as “Chianti’s Famous Carpaccio,” and present
it three different ways ($13-$14). It’s filet mignon sliced
so thin you can see through it, arrayed with a variety of
complementary items. There’s also a tuna carpaccio (tonno,
$14). If, like me, you’re indecisive, order the trittico
($23), and get an entrée-sized platter of the three beef
One of which (Cipriani) pairs it with grana padano,
a classic Italian parmigiana-like cheese, adding capers and
olive oil. The meat is so pliable it’s almost like an aspic,
so I availed myself of my favorite dining tool—my fingers—to
bunch it against some of that cheese en route to the palate.
Carciofi adds goat cheese and artichoke hearts; gorgonzola
complemented the Chianti version. It’s not only a bouquet
of fantastic flavors but also a handsome-looking serving,
arriving on a large silver salver.
Does it bother you to have a small amount of fuss at tableside
as the courses arrive? Not me: At least, not when it’s clearly
in celebration of good food. And so the mozzarella di bufala
($16) arrived with a flourish, a simple combo of tomatoes
and cheese, but the tomatoes glowed red and the cheese was
made with buffalo milk, with a resultant extra graininess
and more pungent flavor than its bovine cousin.
Other appetizers include bruschetta (of course), calamari,
shrimp with cannellini beans, and other bean, vegetable and/or
seafood dishes ($7 to $16), many of which are combined on
the antipasto platter for two ($20).
Salads include creative uses of cheese and fruit, including
the one we sampled: valtellina ($11), which presents
air-dried beef (bresaolo) alongside gorgonzola and
candied apple slices, a strategy not unlike the carpaccio
and just as successful.
Chef Fabrizio Bazzani, a native of Verona, is committed to
keeping the menu interesting and the standards high. He and
his crew work in a presentation kitchen which I never remember
to sit near—but that’s because you can sit on the outdoor
patio or, as we did recently, in a room near the front decorated
with copper and glass.
Bazzani’s entrées are listed in the classic style, with pasta,
risotto and meat dishes listed separately. If you’re going
to dine correctly, which is to say ravenously, you would follow
your starter with a pasta or rice dish, and add an entrée
on top of that.
This we did not do. It’s an evening-long enterprise, in my
experience, that also calls for more wine than I thought prudent
But we sampled one of each. The pasta dish was a special:
rabbit tossed with fettuccine ($17) in a buttery sauce that
included spicy red peppercorns. What an undervalued meat!
It has the sweetness that chicken brings to a pasta dish,
but with a heartier foundation—which was why my daughter leaped
at the chance to order it.
scoglio ($20) is a creamy stew of thirsty arborio kernels,
swollen into flavorful tenderness, finished with crabmeat
and shrimp and a touch of tomato. Unlike its Big Night
counterpart, the meat was easy to find and delicious.
We rounded it out with another special, osso buco ($27),
made my favorite way: with a big shank of lamb, braised to
a pliant finish that absorbed a wealth of flavors en route
and topped with a gremolata version that give it a
Like the room, like the restaurant, each plate looked like
a work of art and, just as colors and textures combine to
make the surroundings more appealing, so did the flavors and
textures of the food.
Sure, you’ll still hear Zecchini singing like a madman as
he makes his way through the dining rooms, accosting the customers
with his oddball wit—but that’s part of the personality of
the restaurant. It’s immensely reassuring to see that the
standards set nearly a decade ago still prevail in this hotly
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
the summer’s sticky heat inspires dreams of air
conditioning or the beach, a toothsome, seasonally
appropriate alternative will be offered next Thursday
(Aug. 9), at New World Home Cooking Co.
in Saugerties: a backyard hoedown! Chef Ric Orlando
and his crew will cook up a Tennessee barbecue
with smoked pork, grilled trout, white bean chili,
corn on the cob, fried green tomatoes, salads,
sweets and more. Beer, wine, root beer, lemonade,
and mint juleps also are included, for $35 per
person (plus tax and tip). Dinner runs from 6
to 9, and includes a set of live music. The restaurant
is at 1411 Route 212, and you can reserve seats
or get more info at (845) 246-0900. Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..